The Debate Circuit reached a new plateau as the national team of Nepal participated in the international WSDC tournament. The national team comprising of Apratim Srivastava, Ameesha Rayamajhi, Mimamsha Dhungana and Ang Sonam Sherpa went to Croatia to be a member of the international tournament. The four members selected by DNN from the national competition (Maha-Sangram) were sponsored by various groups for their venture. The team bagged 14 points and 4 wins on the world’s stage and nearly broke into the quarterfinals as they gained the 26th position (where 25 teams broke). This shows the long way this debate circuit has arrived from our traditional debating styles and competitions.
Debating has started to become a popular phenomenon among the students in recent days. As debating helps to develop critical thinking, public speaking, confidence and fluency among the participants it has been gaining popularity among the students. But it’s not just the debates but the community surrounding it is also amazing. Youth led organization like Debate Network Nepal (DNN) through their fellow debaters and the mentors are excessively passionate about the debates and are ready to help at any time. This help combined with the passion and hard work has brought debating to what it is today. But it still has a long way to go before we have our own Oxford Union. Oxford Union (the largest and most respected debate council) hosts debates involving leaders, diplomats and literates from around the globe.
Apratim Srivastava, a member of the national debate team when asked about the difference in the Nepalese and international debate circuit said, “The debate circuit of Nepal is only 6 years old and so is naturally a bit immature compared to the more experienced international debate circuit. However, the circuit makes up for it through continued hard work and efforts.”
Nepal stacking up to more developed nations like the US and China in any field is already great but for Nepal to bring a trophy home we need more young people in the circuit. More people in the circuit isn’t just good for the debating community but it’s also beneficial for the students. “Debating helps you become more confident with your opinion while also making you a more persuasive speaker and a critical thinker,” says Apratim.
While Safina Shrestha, a student of Budhanilkantha and an Adjudicator says “Adjudicating in debates has made me a better listener and an open-minded person. I can compare two arguments rationally and take decisions accordingly. I can also take better note which has got me through many boring lectures.”
The debating community of Nepal is like no other in the country. It comprises of open-minded personals with strong opinions backed by researched facts. While parts of the country are still stuck in their patriarchal mindset, these young debaters have raised above the conservative mindset and have become a liberal open-minded community. With debates ranging from serious topics like feminism, economics, education sector to more fun topic like “ The house as Jon Snow would not have the intimate relation with Daenerys Targaryen.” referring to the famous HBO show Game of Throne the debaters are engaged in a wide range of subject matter. This not only helps the students be aware of the different sectors but also provides them with the highly important “interactive education”.
Aushi Shrestha, a new addition to the debating circuit said “Debating has opened my world to new ideas and possibilities. I am able to see the world in a much more clear way. Now, when someone tell me an idea I don’t agree I am not offended by it as I can see where they are coming from.”
The debating circuit has gained exponential growth but only through the efforts of the people of the circuit. Nepal needs both government support and private support to allow the circuit to reach the potential it is capable of. The government needs to realize the growing need for high-quality interactive education which is lacking in Nepal’s education sector and must accept the fact that activities like MUNs and Debates are the right way forward in serving this growing need. Educational institutions also need to realize that the overall development of student is only possible through interactive education and Debating and other such activities are the way only way to provide students with such education. Education institutions need to provide Couches and training program on a regular basis too. “It is necessary for the school and colleges to support debating but if the programmas are organized from the side of students and student clubs it better suits the needs of the circuit while also providing students with leadership skill” says Prajesh Aryal a teacher at Rato-Bangla School (which organizes RBS Debates every year).
“Involvement of debating in school syllabus, teaching students through discussions and debates rather than simply feeding them what’s written in the books, establishment of debating clubs and societies, etc. are all activities that could bolster the pace of development that we see in our platform.” say Ang Sonam Sherpa a member of the national debate club.
And for the students, well a fellow debater Raunak says that debating is his super-power. So for all students looking for an ECA activity why not one that gives you a super-power. With the relative ease with which a person can start debating and the novice category which allows new debaters to debate with people of their level, debating in Nepal has started to become a perfect ECA activity for all student.
Prepared By: Saugat Pokharel